The Heidelberg Project, the iconic outdoor art installations on Detroit’s east side for three decades, will be dismantled over the next two years, creator Tyree Guyton said Sunday.

“My lips are sealed,” Guyton said beyond acknowledging that the internationally famous, grassroots nonprofit is evolving while rearranging some of the works on Heidelberg Street on Sunday. “I’d prefer you to talk to the world,” by which he meant visitors to the project, who number about 200,000 annually to the two-block area of Guyton’s childhood neighborhood near Mount Elliott and Mack.

Guyton would say nothing more. The dismantling of the artwork was first reported Sunday in the Detroit Free Press.

But in 1986, the idea was to bring people together. Even as residents called his artifacts junk, leading then-Mayor Coleman A. Young to proclaim the installations weren’t art, national magazines took note, saluting the work as fresh and vital. Galleries, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, invited Guyton to show his work.

John Fullmore has lived on Ellery, across the street from the Heidelberg Project since 1965.

“It didn’t bother me then,” Fullmore said, referring to the project’s creation, “and it doesn’t bother me now.”

The tear-down will take place in several sessions.


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